Brac forum tackles development

Government met with the Sister Islands’ business community recently to discuss issues relating to sustainable living and economic development.

The Deloitte Private-Public Coordination Forum, co-sponsored by the Ministry of District Administration and the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau, was well attended by top government officials, business leaders and interested Sister Islands residents, said a GIS press release.

Held at the Brac Reef Beach Resort on Cayman Brac, the forum was the first of its kind to bring together government and private sector representatives at one venue to share strategies on achieving sustainable economic growth on the Sister Islands, the release said. Public input was encouraged, with several speakers giving feedback and asking questions.

Speakers at the forum included Governor Stuart Jack, Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts and Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce Charles Clifford.

In his opening speech Mr. Tibbetts said, ‘We will strive to ensure that development occurs in a manner that will not destroy all that our forefathers all worked so hard to establish. We recognise that the Sister Islands are unique in many instances, and are mindful of the fact that (it) requires a different approach than in Grand Cayman.’

Minister Clifford addressed the group on steps that are being taken by his Ministry and in particular the CIIB, to encourage investment on the Sister Islands. He said that specific challenges surrounding the pursuit of greater levels of investment in priority industries will be tackled early next year.

‘A survey of the business climate is also planned for next month that will seek to highlight specific hurdles facing businesses here, and thus inform policy changes that can better facilitate investment in the Sister Islands,’ he said.

A panel on social development in the Sister Islands, moderated by Sister Islands MLA Juliana O’Connor Connolly, followed the forum’s official opening.

‘We must foster a community of learning and growing in the Sister Islands as a cornerstone …and teach young people to share in responsibility of the community,’ said Brac High School Principal Shirley Wahler.

Director of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie made an impassioned presentation on the protection of the Sister Islands environment.

‘Sustainable development provides a framework under which communities can use resources efficiently, create efficient infrastructures, protect and enhance quality of life, and create new businesses to strengthen their economies. Protection of our natural environment is therefore a cornerstone of the sustainable development framework and it should underpin all national decisions,’ she said.

‘The forum provided everyone with greater insight into various economic sectors and this will greatly facilitate the development of specific policies to encourage appropriate investment and development,’ concluded Dax Basdeo, Director of the CIIB.

‘Now that we are more familiar with social and environmental concerns, we can make recommendations on these policies that will adhere to the principles of sustainable development.’

Presentations made at the Deloitte Private-Public Coordination Forum have been posted on the CIIB website at www.investcayman.gov.ky/bracforum.cfm.